It can’t be easy for developers to make sequels, especially for well-received franchises. We’ve all seen rants bashing companies for "dumbing down" features whenever a game’s sequel has a simpler interface or streamlined combat mechanics.
Mass Effect 3 has been the subject of such criticisms, partly due to recently leaked screenshots of an early build which showed different single-player game settings.
Nothing pisses gamers off more than variety
The leaked screenshots indicate BioWare is — or at least, at one point, was — working on a mode where much of what defines Mass Effect is removed from the experience. It also enforced what EA said about making Mass Effect appeal to a “wider audience,” which is heresy to many gamers.
I’ll admit that I initially jumped on the hate wagon that this image fueled. The screenshot, combined with the announcement of multiplayer and an explosion-packed trailer, made me feel that Mass Effect 3 was going to end up feeling too much like Gears of War.
But then I tried to replay the original Mass Effect. A few hours with the game’s clunky combat and inventory reminded me that Mass Effect 2 was a much better game to play. I’m sure some of ME2’s features were tweaked to appeal to a wider audience, but is that always a bad thing?
Some gamers found fault with ME2’s streamlined features, like simpler leveling and exploration. They must have forgotten that much of the optional exploring in Mass Effect consisted of driving around deserted planets.
This is even less fun that it looks
This goes back to ME3’s different game modes. If some version of the original Mass Effect completely excluded the Mako Rover, I’d be all over it. Yeah, it would take away from the game…but only parts I didn’t like to play.
I’m going to spout some more blasphemy now: I auto-leveled my second time playing through Mass Effect 2. My characters weren’t built the way I would’ve liked them to be, but the game’s difficulty didn’t feel any different. It still felt like Mass Effect, and it still felt fun.
Believe it or not, some gamers aren’t huge on dialogue choices. A few friends of mine love Final Fantasy games, but they rarely read or listen to all of the dialogue. They just enjoy building characters and battling. Action mode sounds like it’d be right up their alley.
Mass Effect 3 will probably be even more streamlined than its predecessor. If I spend less time navigating through unnecessary stats and menus and more time trying to save (or conquer) the galaxy, then that’s a good thing. Mass Effect was never a traditional RPG, so gamers shouldn’t expect sequels to abide by genre standards.
It seems no franchise is hardcore enough for some. I’ve read comments from elitists with the audacity to say The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim is dumbed down or "console-ized." To be completely honest, I’m not surprised. I’ve read similar comments for just about every sequel released this year.
In the eyes of elitists, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Crysis 2, Dragon Age 2, Portal 2, and even Dark Souls have been simplified for those who can’t handle the "hardcore." It irritates me that so many gamers think this way.
It’s true that developers add more roller-coaster set pieces and action-game tropes to make their titles appeal to a broader audience, but that doesn’t guarantee a bad sequel. Games like Mass Effect and Deus Ex blur the lines between genres and, in turn, contribute to the evolution of game design.
If you can’t accept that RPGs don’t always require players to number-crunch and grind their way to a good time, then you might as well abandon video games and go dig up your d20.
I personally don’t understand why someone would play Mass Effect 3 on Action Mode (if it even exists), but I don’t think its inclusion could ruin the game. If you're unfamiliar with the series and want to jump into ME3, I say go for it. Play on any game mode you like.
Ignore the raging purists. The rest of us just want to have fun.
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